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Be careful where you get your news about coronavirus

March 16, 2020

About the Author

photo of Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School. … See Full Bio
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Henry Smith
February 14, 2020

Although the World Health Organization has declared Novel Coronavirus a PHEIC, the large threat of the lives still remains in China where death toll has crossed 1300 and the number of people infected has reached over 60000. In US, as the writer correctly mentioned, Flu remains the larger threat over Coronavirus as the latter’s origin is outside.

February 13, 2020

Neither of my two previous comments were posted, though they referenced a Helsinki University, Department of Public Health, article available on PubMed, and a new clinical trial registered on Feb 11, 2020 at

Will you post my comments?

Isa Gar
February 10, 2020

Is the coronavirus a man-made virus?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
February 12, 2020

No, it is not man-made. This is one of many misconceptions I’ve heard quoted recently. See the links above for reliable information, including the CDC link which says this: “Coronaviruses are common in many different species of animals, including camels and bats. Rarely, these coronaviruses can evolve and infect humans and then spread between humans.”

February 9, 2020

Gilead Sciences and other pharmaceuticals are in Wuhan conducting Clinical trials. The media have reported that medical experts have stated that evidence of the drugs efficacy will take 4 or more months to determine. This appears to be a strict adherence to protocol and given the current situation seems to me to be a nonsensical if not an outright intellectually lazy approach to dealing with this type of life and death crisis. Within 4 months, the infected will have either recovered on their own or died. An individual who was treated in the state of Washington showed signs of improvement the day after first receiving the drug and is now fully recovered. In this case, I would think that to some extent, clinical protocols should be revised.

February 7, 2020

Okay what I dont get is they have created high quality cleaners to clean infected surfaces that have these viruses on them such as Corona viruses and what I dont get is why can’t health officials create a proper antidote to vaccinate people for the virus. I find it quite difficult to understand I mean they know what the Corona virus is they know what it does to the immune system I mean the virus obviously needs to make or duplicate itself to even spread I font get it and they know obviously how to prevent or I should say how they would know how to take precautions on not getting the virus….??hmmmm

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
February 12, 2020

Creating a vaccine is quite complicated and it takes time to develop one that is safe and effective. Sometimes it takes year or decades – sometimes it seems impossible – for example, we still don’t have an effective vaccine for HIV/AIDs. If an unreliable or untested vaccine was rushed into use, it could easily cause more harm than benefit.

Coronavirus infection is thought to spread between humans by respiratory droplets through the air (as with coughing or sneezing) so the role of surface cleansers is not clear.

There are a number of precautions people can take: see links to reliable sources of information such as the CDC and WHO in the blog post.

February 6, 2020

The UKs NHS is the best source of information. They are clear, succinct and not prone to conjecture, hysterics or waffling on and on. If they don’t know, they say so instead of theorising. I dismiss my own nations health service and go to the NHS in the UK for this reason.

February 2, 2020

What is the best PPE recommendation againts Corona virus? How is the transmission? Airborne? touching? foods? improper hygiene? It is spreading so fast and do we have to wait for infected to be diagnosed before we wear mask? Prevention by wearing mask must be a protocol or later?

Angelo Pusiol
February 2, 2020

Need more hygienic measures on the planes, clean air filters, masks in the airports , liquid gel for the hands at the checkins, all hell of a sudden!

Prasenjit Dev
February 2, 2020

Rumors cause almost all perils in our society. Awareness is the anti- dote to coronavirus. Let’s spread the truth about coronavirus and serve as a life saver.

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